40 Years Ago: Bachman-Turner Overdrive Release ‘BTO II’
Nineteen-seventy-three’s ‘BTO II’ really only boasted two stand-out tracks, and neither cracked the Top 10. Still, the songs were enough to free Randy Bachman of his early association with the Guess Who and to establish Bachman-Turner Overdrive as a new presence in rock ‘n’ roll.
Bachman’s ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ and ‘Let It Ride,’ which included one of Fred Turner’s best-ever growls, featured a fan-friendly combination of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s hound-dog bark and the shambolic heavy groove of Mick Taylor-era Rolling Stones. That they would reach only Nos. 12 and 23, respectively, in the middle of 1974 was of little concern, as Turner told Brave Words in 2012.
“Basically, when BTO broke, it was going more towards albums at that point,” he said. “And because our second album, the second Bachman-Turner Overdrive, was the first to go gold, and it hit it as an album, we always ended up selling more albums than we did singles. We only had a couple of really big singles that really went deep into the industry, you know?”
Whatever their sales, neither ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ nor ‘Let It Ride’ has ever gone out of rotation — and ‘Business’ remains a staple in commercials four decades later. That meant that Bachman (who wrote or co-wrote Guess Who hits like ‘No Time,’ ‘Undun’ and ‘These Eyes’) was finally making good on his decision to leave that popular band in 1970, when ‘American Woman’ reigned at the top of the charts.
Even so, ‘BTO II’ — released a little more than six months after BTO’s light-selling self-titled debut — finds the group working to achieve the proper mix of voices, sounds and feelings. ‘Not Fragile,’ released in 1974, would perfect the recipe and spawn the band’s signature smash ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.’ But in 1973, Bachman-Turner Overdrive were still prone to odd stumbles like ‘Blown’ (which opens ‘BTO II’) and ‘I Don’t Have to Hide,’ both sung by Randy’s brother Tim.
Elsewhere, ‘Welcome Home’ and ‘Tramp,’ co-written by Randy and brother Robbie, get closer to the clever, radio-ready boogie-based crunch that became BTO’s stock-in-trade. Still, songs like the sludgy ‘Stonegates’ slow things down. For his part, Bachman took such criticism in stride, telling Rolling Stone in 1975, “They also call us a loud, thundering wall of monotony. Well, that’s what we are. That’s what Deep Purple is. That’s what Led Zeppelin is. That’s what Creedence was. Everything’s monotonous. Who cares what the critics say? ‘BTO II’ and ‘Not Fragile’ are platinum.”
Bachman-Turner Overdrive broke up at the end of the decade and then reunited for a spell in the ’80s. These days, Bachman and Turner still work together as a duo.
Listen to Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s ‘BTO II’